Whilst Chained is something of a complete rip-off of Steven Mena’s Bereavement, I actually preferred Chained by quite a long way. Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch (daughter of the well known yet bizarre director, David Lynch), I find that this was a horror film that actually managed to have some emotional depth to it, at the same time as still maintaining a gory, bloody side too. This is a hard balance to achieve, but I think that Jennifer Chambers Lynch hit the nail on the head here! The film had to be edited to reach an R certificate, as it contains ‘disturbing and sadistic violent content’. However, the violence present here is not the main focus of the story, which, for me, makes it acceptable. I am not denying that is horrific, because I genuinely found some of those scenes quite disturbing to watch, but sound was used very effectively as opposed to visuals with the ‘torture’ elements of the film.
The plot revolves around a serial killer, Bob, who reluctantly takes on a little boy (the son of one of his victims) as his servant. Bob renames the boy ‘Rabbit’ and the two of them live together in a fairly dysfunctional manner, with Bob bringing home women to rape and kill on a regular basis. The situation becomes even more complicated once Rabbit reaches teenage-hood and Bob expects him to join in with his ‘activities’ in order to become ‘a real man’. The two leading actors, Vincent D’Onofrio and Eamon Farren, did a superb job of these tricky roles, and much credit should go to them for making this film a success.
Despite the fact that a large chunk of the film is just the interactions between Bob and ‘Rabbit’, the clever dialogue and nail-biting tension throughout provide more than enough fuel to keep the viewer gripped. I like the fact that both of the characters seemed like real people and each had their own logic – this is important when dealing with serial killers, as the viewer needs to understand their motivations behind the atrocities they commit. Ultimately, Chained is a film about morality and whether a child’s upbringing is crucial in determining their future behaviour. We are shown very little flashbacks of Bob’s past, but this was not at all clear enough to really get a proper idea about how he was brought up. I thought these parts were lacking in believability and didn’t really flow with the rest of the movie.
Whereas with Bereavement (which explores the same basic concept), the viewer does not get to spend much time seeing the two characters interact with each other and so we don’t really gain any sympathy for the child – especially as we already know what he will become! Bereavement also tells the story more from a victims point of view, meaning that we are forced to identify with her as opposed to anyone else. I do think that Bereavement is a good film, but Chained is a much better and more developed version.
My main criticism of Chained would be with the ending, in which a very significant revelation was unveiled and resolved in only a few minutes. I thought that this deserved a lot longer to explore and give the audience time to digest the ramifications of this recent plot twist. The last scene is definitely an odd one and there is a lot of ambiguity present in the final moments. The audience is left wondering whether Rabbit will fall into the role that Bob had tried to push him into or not. The point is, we never see Rabbit release the final girl, meaning that is left entirely down to interpretation. This is a bold move on the director’s part, but I can’t help but wonder on the outcome, because after the journey that the viewer has been taken on, it feels like we deserve to know the answers.
Chained is an excellent yet grim film which keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat at all times. There are a few plot twists chucked in there as a way of challenging the genre and raising questions that we might not want to know the answers to. I recommend Chained as an impressive little film which proved itself to be generally quite an uneasy experience!